RB Leipzig 2, Manchester City 1 (UEFA Champions League)
Manchester City’s seven game winning run came to a disappointing end as a second string side lost to RB Leipzig in an empty stadium in Germany.Embed from Getty Images
City conceded two goals to Dominik Szoboszlai and Andre Silva but pulled a goal back through Riyad Mahrez before a disappointing late red card for Kyle Walker.
The result mean that City have conceded at least twice in three different Chapions League group stage games for the first time since 2014/15 but still finished top of the group by just a point from Paris St Germain who beat Club Brugge 4-1.
City were already assured of top place in their group going into this game played well below their recent best in an eerily empty Red Bull Arena.
RB Leipzig took full advantage of the new manager bounce after Jesse Marsch was sacked at the weekend – and they had to do it in front of an empty stadium due to COVID lockdown rules banning fans from the game.
Stand-in manager Achim Beierlorzer rallied the troops and his team responded.
City’s ‘second string’ included Kevin de Bruyne who was looking for some form after returning to training following COVID.
Unfortunately, there were too many players having an off night around him as City made seven changes from the side that beat Watford.
Only Walker, Ilkay Gundogan, Jack Grealish, and Phil Foden retained their places from that game.
But unlike the highly encouraging game at Club Brugge, City boss Pep Guardiola largely resisted the temptation to use the five Academy players at his disposal on the City bench as the night soured for City.
The home side took the lead in the 24th minute after Konrad Laimer’s well timed pass beat City’s offside trap with Kyle Walker asleep as Dominik Szboszlai ran onto the pass and drilled the opening goal past Zack Steffen.
It was unfair on the American who made several saves in the first half – from Laimer and Emil Forsberg – while Phil Foden had a shot tipped onto the post by Peter Gulacsi and De Bruyne found rare moments of quality including a free kick which was palmed away by Gulacsi.
Kyle Walker sent off for under par Man City as RB Leipzig win a place in the Europa League next year.
City improved after the break but their passing continued to let them down and Leipzig played like a side who knew they were effectively through to the Europa League as Club Brugge were 3-0 down at the break in their game against Paris St Germain – a scoreline that virtually guaranteed a 3rd place finish in the group for the Germans whatever the result.
With 19 minutes to go Andre Silva doubled the lead after John Stones’ sloppy pass to Fernandinho was seized by Forsberg who broke from midfield and found the Portuguese striker who scored his 3rd goal in 4 games – 6th in all this season.
Riyad Mahrez halved the deficit with a simple header from Oleksandr Zinchenko’s left wing cross 5 minutes later – his 9th goal of the season – 5th in the Champions League – and 9th in his last 10 appearances in the competition.
Jack Grealish had also gone close earlier in the game and saw a late effort deflected for a corner as City got closer.
But the game had already been punctuated with needless yellow cards for petty infringements before Kyle Walker was sent off kicking out at Andre Silva.
Walker had already looked off the pace but will now miss at least the first leg of the knockout round as City ended their Champions League group stage campaign with a disappointing defeat and a worrying back injury for Ake plus concerns over Foden’s ankle.
MATCH STATS – RB Leipzig 2, Manchester City 1 (UEFA Champions League)
RB Leipzig: Kulacsi, Mukiele (Henrichs 80), Klostermann (Simakan 46), Gvardiol, Angelino, Laimer (Adams 63), Kampl, Nkunku, Forsber (Brobbey 79), Szboszlai, Andre Silva (Moriba 86)
RB Leipzig subs not used: Martinez, Bonnah
Bookings: Adams, Kampl
Goals: Szboszlai 24; Silva 71
Man City: Steffen, Walker, Stones, Ake (Dias 87), Zinchenko, Gundogan, Fernandinho, De Bruyne (Palmer 87), Mahrez, Grealish, Foden (Sterling 46)
Man City subs not used: Ederson, Carson, Egan-Riley, Palmer, McAtee, Lavia, Wilson-Esbrand
Bookings: Stones, De Bruyne
Sent Off: Walker 82
Goal: Mahrez 76
Referee: Sandro Scharer